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Monday, October 18, 2021

ASUCD senators start petition calling for Punjabi culture and language class

ASUCD Senator Irveen Grewal (JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE)
ASUCD Senator Irveen Grewal (JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE)

Class would offer opportunity to learn about Punjabi culture, literature and language

ASUCD senators and the Sikh Cultural Association (SCA) have kick-started a petition advocating for a Punjabi culture and language class at UC Davis. The class would aim to increase the awareness of the language, literature and culture of the state of Punjab, located in Northwestern India, the home of India’s Sikh community.

ASUCD Senator Puneet Dhindsa, a fourth-year political science major, was inspired to take action in response to the large Punjabi community on campus. She contacted other ASUCD senators and SCA members about her idea and received their support to petition for a Punjabi class.

Dhindsa has been working closely with fellow ASUCD Senator and second-year political science and psychology double major Irveen Grewal, who will take over the reigns of the petition after Dhindsa graduates this spring.

Grewal hopes that this class will encourage Punjabi students to embrace their culture and fight the generalization of identifying as simply “Indian.”

“A lot of [Punjabi] students here compromise how they’re being represented and say ‘Yeah, I’m Indian,’ but won’t say that they’re Punjabi because people don’t understand what it is,” Grewal said. “I think [that] providing that information in the form of a class would make students feel more comfortable on campus.”

Punjabi is most commonly spoken in Northwestern India and Pakistan. UC Davis currently offers Hindi, the official language of India, as a foreign language class.

ASUCD Senator and third-year managerial economics major Parteek Singh is taking a Hindi language class at UC Davis but has noticed a large amount of Punjabi students enrolled in his class.  

“A large portion of the Indian community at UC Davis is Punjabi, and a big portion of the students taking Hindi right now are Punjabi,” Singh said. “These students who can speak or want to learn both languages might get these two languages mixed up […] It makes me wonder if these students are taking Hindi because Punjabi is not offered.”

For self-taught Punjabi speakers, taking a class may still provide benefits.

“Having a teacher there beside you makes all the difference,” said Lovepreet Singh, a third-year computer science major and president of SCA. “Having someone who can teach you all of the essential parts of a language, such as proper pronunciation, is really important.”

Dhindsa believes that a Punjabi class at UC Davis would help accommodate the large Punjabi community and provide a space to celebrate Punjabi culture.

“I want people to be proud of their culture’s language,” Dhindsa said. “I especially want Punjabis to be proud of their culture. That’s the main goal of this class.”

Anyone interested in signing the Punjabi culture and language class petition or learning more about the class is encouraged to contact Grewal.

Written by: Emma Sadlowski – campus@theaggie.org

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